by Cherise T.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest country singers of all time, Dolly Parton is now a novelist as well. Her coauthor is none other than James Patterson, one of the best-selling authors of all time. How could I not take a chance on their thriller, Run, Rose, Run, the story of a bound-for-stardom young country singer with a dark past?
I’ll let you in on a not-so secret. Despite my snobbish reading tendencies, I’m a sucker for books by my favorite authors, even if their newest book is not well received. I don’t read reviews or book cover blurbs. With my eyes unfocused, I scan a book’s description or skim the closing sentence of a book review, but beyond that, I don’t want to know. I prefer to judge for myself whether a book is a “family saga” or an “exploration of self-discovery,” or a “dystopian post-apocalyptic journey.” I’ll judge for myself whether the protagonist is “unforgettable,” the writing “electric,” and the plot “timeless.” Another secret: if the writer is someone I admire or whose work intrigues me, I’ll read the book even while I know I may be critical of potentially weak prose or stereotyped characters.
Biases intact, I started reading Run, Rose, Run. Three chapters later, I considered all the other books in my pile and moved on. Recently, a customer asked for the book, and I happened to notice that the audiobook included Dolly Parton and a full cast of readers. Being a sucker for an over-produced audiobook and a Dolly devotee, I gave the book a second chance. Fellow readers, the audiobook is great and not over-the-top at all, and the plot is a page turner, even as I toggled back and forth to the print version. Parton has a significant role in the audiobook as she performs the part of the seasoned world-famous country singer, Ruthanna Ryder, who has taken fledgling AnnieLee Keyes under her tutelage.
For those wondering if they should read this book, please consider the engaging aspects of the story. There are attractive love interests. The thugs are brawny and scary. The protagonists have mysterious backstories. The descriptions of the music business feel like the reader is gossiping with their close friend, Dolly. The pages are packed with country music references and lyrics penned by Parton just for this book. And for Dolly Parton fans? Parton has explained that there are autobiographical elements in the aspects of the plot related to breaking into the entertainment industry. Beyond that, however, I enjoyed imagining how many of the descriptions of makeup, shoes, performances, grievances, cooking, martinis, songwriting, and home décor were glimpses into Dolly Parton’s life.
Run, Rose, Run. It’s a suspenseful book. It’s a compelling audio performance. It’s an entertaining 12-track bluegrass album (don’t miss “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans” and “Snakes in the Grass”). Reese Witherspoon’s production company has plans to create a film based on the novel. Need I say more?
Cherise Tasker is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.